Death Comes Ripping

feature image

Distractions were a-plenty as we huddled with four members of Ancient VVisdom for our scheduled chat in the main backstage area of Mr. Smalls Theatre in Pittsburgh. Royal Thunder vocal queen Mlyn Parsonz stood a few feet behind us, trying to freshen up after their set. Various members of Enslaved’s crew shuttled in and out, oftentimes yelling loudly (in Norwegian, of course) to each other. To top it all off, emerging funeral doom crew Pallbearer was on stage, no doubt lambasting the crowd with maximum levels of distortion and deafening chugs. Yet, somehow, the interview went off without a hitch, as singer Nathan Opposition, guitarist Ribs, lead guitarist Mike, and bassist TA, proved to be some of the nicest dudes around while we huddled together.

The band is currently hitting the boards in support of their new Deathlike (Prosthetic) album, a body of work that comes barely a calendar year after the release of last year’s A Godlike Inferno. It was Godlike that effectively put the band on the map, showcasing their unique brand of devil rock, complete with chains, bamboo, and anything else as means for percussion, while Opposition’s agile, melodious vocals belted out hymns to the devil. This mixture serves as the alternative to the current rash of occult-oriented bands coming out of the woodwork, giving AVV an angle that is rightfully their own. So with the new album on the docket and tour stories to tell (the band escaped arrest in Nashville after being pulled over for having windows that were deemed too “dark”), off we went… 


From what I understand, the new album, Deathlike, has been done for a while.

Nathan: All wrapped up; had to wait for mastering, get the artwork. Working with Travis Smith, who did all the detail work. He deserves a lot of credit for what he did. He’s real nice and really understood what I wanted. It’s a simple cover.


Like the first album.

Nathan: Right, but that was like the “spark” that started the whole thing. There’s a different cover for the LP that’s the all-seeing eye.


Do you always have songs in the can?

Nathan: Oh yeah. We always have a lot of material ready to go. Some of these songs I’ve had for a long time, and me and Ribs and Mike have started working on new material. We’re always in the writing process. I write when I’m inspired to write something…I get a thought in my head, then I’m like, “This would be interesting to write about.” These guys will pull a riff out of their assholes and it will sound amazing.

Ribs: It’s pretty cool. It’s a process that works out well for us.


What made the title track the choice to be the first “single” off the album? I think it’s the best song on the album.

Mike: Ah, thanks. [pats himself on the back]

Nathan: It’s the title track and very powerful song.

Ribs: It’s the first song written for the record. I

Mike: I wrote it two years ago, right?

Nathan: You go back into the filing cabinet of the mind and go, “Let’s use this one. Let’s use that one!”

Mike: We played on the Ghost run, too.


The new album, at least the way I see it, is a continuation of Godlike Inferno. Was that intentional?

Nathan: Definitely. Especially conceptually, you can play the records back-to-back. Each one has a connection. We want to experiment and evolve with each record…that gets boring for everybody, especially us [laughs]. If I’m not interested, then I probably wouldn’t do it. It’s a definitely a continuation, and visually, it all maps together.


I think this one isn’t as overt as the last one. There’s more of mystical feel to what you’re saying.

Nathan: Yeah, the first one is right on the surface and in your face. I really started to understand what I wanted to write, how I wanted to say things, and the words I wanted to choose to accent my parts. I never use curse words either.


That almost diminishes things, sometimes.

Nathan: I have a foul mouth as it is, so there’s no need for it.

Ribs: That’s like a cheap shot. There’s no reason to say things like that.

Nathan: I almost said “bullshit” in one of our songs, but I found a better way to say it.


You mentioned doing some in-store performances. What do you have lined up?

Nathan: We’re going to have cardboard cut-outs of ourselves, and have the eyeballs cut out so we can stand behind ourselves [laughs]

Ribs: I think that’s awesome. Even if we Spinal Tap it and no one shows up, it’s a cool thing to do. When’s the last time you heard anyone doing this type of thing? It’s a cool thing. Even just to hang out with the people at the record store will be cool.


Your music lends itself to that environment anyway.

Nathan: Yeah!


You hear Pallbearer playing right now…it would be hard for them.

Nathan: It would be hard for them to do an in-store [laughs]. That might be cool, actually.

Mike: Like 40 Watt Sun…they could just half-time that shit.

TA: I love to see bands like that do acoustic versions of their stuff.

Mike: Their acoustic stuff is amazing.

Ribs: Our maybe it was Warning you are thinking of.


That was his [Patrick Walker] band before 40 Watt Sun, so that could be it.

Ribs: Warning is the shit.

Mike: They’re playing in like G, acoustic. Their strings are like [makes rubber band noise].

Nathan: That could be really cool.

Mike: Especially with his voice not having to strain himself…I think that could be awesome.


Like we were saying, your music can fit in that type of setting.

Nathan: We sort of transform ourselves to whatever environment we’re in. We can do a fucking coffee shop…

TA: One of the coolest shows we did was when we did the all-acoustic with Scott Kelly (Neurosis).

Ribs: Yeah, the bar in which me and Mike work at. It was so cool. It was with the dude from Oxbow.

Bassist: And he was doing spoken-word.


And what were you guys doing?

TA: All acoustic, everything. We used a tambourine; that was the only percussion.

Ribs: We play with Scott everytime he comes through. Both Scotts actually – Scott Kelly and Scott Wino.


By way of carving your own niche, are you still encountering people in the crowd who appear as if they don’t know what to expect?

Nathan: It really depends where. We played Baltimore last night and they were really into it.

TA: We get a good mix it and love it, and sing it. And then you see people that don’t know the music, but are into.

Nathan: You see people who are hearing it for the first time, their eyes goes up a little, like “What is this?”

Ribs: We also work well with an older crowd; they get the fuck out of it. We’ve had 40’s, 50’s, 60’s…they’re into like Zeppelin, old-school stuff.

Mike: One of my main influences is the Eagles, man.

Ribs: I hate the Eagles!

Nathan: The dude in Big Lebowski gave them a bad name. I don’t see why the dude didn’t like the Eagles…just take it easy man.

Mike: That’s a name of an Eagles song!

Nathan: I know!

Mike: I think that’s the one thing with our music that goes places where others don’t. It’s heavy, but it’s not crazy heavy.


Like this bill, for instance. You manage to fit in really well, even with a band like Enslaved, who have been all over the map musically.

Mike: We can fit on any bill, I think.

Ribs: I want to do every kind of tour.

TA: We played Inferno Fest in Norway. We did great there.

Mike: The metal comparisons…I don’t even get it.


Well, you’re on a metal label.

Mike: The label is also changing with the sounds of the times. We’re a little more in-depth than most.


The nice thing with being lumped into the metal scene is that people are used to having their ears blasted all the time, then you guys come in, all melodic. And you all have metal backgrounds.

TA: Every one of us has played in really heavy bands.


It’s always fun to talk to metal guys about what they really listen to.

Mike: Metal dudes’ girlfriends really like us [laughs].

Ribs: I’d like to play to every crowd, pick up new people along the way.

TA: We’re fortunate we can fit with any style of music and hold our own and be cohesive.


You have a really simple setup in which to tour; it’s not like you’re stacking Marshalls all over the place.

Ribs: It’s easy to load in, but it’s hard to make it sound right. Now that we’re the first band, they do Enslaved, then us.

Mike: Wait a couple of years – there’s going to be stacks. We want to add a keyboard player, another percussionist, upright bass, string ensemble [laughs].

Nathan:  I have some friends who works with own solo stuff like, Godspeed! You Black Emperor. I haven’t asked him yet, and I want him to play some cello. We did have some upright bass on Godlike Inferno stuff. Certain shows do stuff like that; incorporate an added layer. On Deathlike, I did a layer of lower synth on the entire thing. That’s how you get those big punch-ups…I don’t want to give away my secrets, but that’s when the song gets really big. That gives them extra push-ups.


The harmony chain. How do you divvy them up?

Nathan: We write them as we go. Me and Mike, we’re brothers, so we naturally have a voice that matches up with each other. It fits really naturally. We take the first layer and find the appropriate harmony for it. We don’t think too much for it.

Mike: I don’t have to reach much for it…it’s just there.

Ribs: It’s tougher for me than them [laughs].

Mike: We’re pretty naturally gifted when it comes to knowing what key to find.

Nathan: Like on “Here is the Grave,” that’s definitely some of the favorite harmonies to do on the album. “Deathlike” is cool as well.


Have you started thinking about the next one yet?

Ribs: Absolutely. It’s already done. The skeletons are done.


You’re like the bands from the 70s – putting multiple albums out a year.

Mike: How many did Kiss put out their first year, three?

TA: That’s the best thing about this band.

Ribs: There’s no holding back, especially when it comes to recording.

Nathan: We think about percussion in a different light. Like, what’s around here [points to microwave], let’s use that! [banging noises ensue]


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.